Oathbringer Reread

Oathbringer Reread: Chapter Fifty-Six

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Good morning, true believers (::sniff::). In today’s reread, Alice, Aubree and I will be taking another journey into Dalinar’s visions, this time back to the Recreance—when the Knights Radiant dropped their Shards and abandoned Roshar. There are so many questions in this one to tackle. Why did they do it, really? It can’t possibly be as simple as the big reveal at the end of the book lets on, can it? And what’s going on between Hoid and Harmony? And… well, read on, dear followers, as we discuss those and more. (And freak out a little over the surprise guest at the end of the chapter, of course.)

Reminder: we’ll potentially be discussing spoilers for the ENTIRE NOVEL in each reread. There’s some more minor Mistborn spoilers in the epigraph discussion, under The Singing Storm section. As usual, we need to warn that if you haven’t read ALL of Oathbringer, best to wait to join us until you’re done.

Chapter Recap

WHO: Dalinar
WHERE: Vision of the Recreance, Feverstone Keep (wherever that is)
WHEN: 1174.1.9.3 (two days after Rlain’s chapter)

Dalinar brings Jasnah and Navani into the vision of the Recreance, then lets them go collect information while he and Yanagawn (aka Gawx) talk about what’s happening on the field below. The Knights Radiant of old abandon their Shards and walk away, leaving them for the future rulers of Roshar to fight over. As Gawx fades away, Dalinar expects to awaken from the vision as well… but he’s confronted by an unexpected guest.

The Singing Storm

Title: Always With You

L: The title of this one comes from Odium’s quote near the end: “I’ve always been here. Always with you, Dalinar. Oh, I’ve watched you for a long, long time.” Yeah. That’s not creepy at all.

Heralds

Jezrien, Windrunners, Protecting/Leading. Talenelat, Stonewards, Dependable/Resourceful.

L: It seems pretty clear that Jezrien’s here because Dalinar, as usual, is projecting those ideals—trying to find ways to lead all the people of Roshar through this time of trouble. He’s also being dependable, so… there’s Talenelat.

Icon

Kholin glyphpair (Dalinar)

Epigraph

I am also made uncertain by your subterfuge. Why have you not made yourself known to me before this? How is it you can hide? Who are you truly, and how do you know so much about Adonalsium?

L: Wait a second, wait a second. Hoid, being mysterious about something? I don’t believe it.

AA: Inconceivable!

It is interesting, though, that Sazed apparently didn’t know about Hoid until he got this letter. How many of the Shards do know when he shows up on their planets?

AP: Isn’t that that $64,000 question though? Who exactly is Hoid, and how does he know so much?

AA: Well, he was there when Adonalsium was Shattered, and refused to pick up a Shard, but … that’s about all we really know about his involvement. He has a certain advantage over Sazed in this—at least he was there, knows the other Vessels, and knows something about what and how and why. Poor Sazed has to be feeling awfully ignorant sometimes.

Stories & Songs

“A multiethnic coalition here, like during the Desolations—but if I’m right, this is over two thousand years after Aharietiam.”

“They’re fighting someone,” Dalinar said. “The Radiants retreat from a battle, then abandon their weapons on the field outside.”

“Which places the Recreance a little more recently than Masha-daughter-Shaliv had it in her history,” Jasnah said, musing. “From my reading of your vision accounts, this is the last chronologically—though it’s difficult to place the one with you overlooking ruined Kholinar.”

L: Reminder for those of you out there with awful memories like me that Aharietiam was when the Heralds vanished, and the Recreance is when the Knights Radiant buggered off.

AP: I’m glad you clarified. It took me longer than it should have to figure out that they weren’t the same event. I had conflated the two the first time I read the series.

AA: Just for the sake of timeline-y things, Aharietiam was 4500 years ago—that thing in the Prelude, which Dalinar saw in a vision. Jasnah is trying to zero in on a date for the Recreance, which got muddled by the Heirocracy with their … creative revision of history. (My personal theory is that the current date system stems from the time when things settled back down after the Recreance, meaning that it happened about 1200 years ago.)

“It could be the False Desolation,” Jasnah said. … “A legend, … considered pseudohistorical. Dovcanti wrote an epic about it somewhere around fifteen hundred years ago. The claim is that some Voidbringers survived Aharietiam, and there were many clashes with them afterward. It’s considered unreliable, but that’s because many later ardents insist that no Voidbringers could have survived. I’m inclined to assume this is a clash with parshmen before they were somehow deprived of their ability to change forms.”

L: This is particularly interesting when we consider that this is the moment when the ancient knights learned about the true nature of the world and their place in it. How did they learn? What happened? Was it something that was revealed during the course of this battle somehow?

AP: Additionally, we know that some of the Parsh* people survived and retained the ability to change forms. My hunch is that they are fighting the group that would (or perhaps already has at this point) become the Listeners. To humans who don’t understand the distinction between the Parsh* and the Fused, they could seem like Voidbringers.

AA: There’s a pretty strong indication that the ones they were fighting were the Singers, and the Listeners had already broken away. Most of the following is based on the epigraphs in Part Three, but it seems most probable that the False Desolation was caused by one of the Unmade, Ba-Ado-Mishram, who figured out a way to give the Singers the same ability to take the Voidforms (or something very like them) without the presence of the Fused. The Bondsmith Melishi figured out how to trap her in a perfect gem, thus breaking her Connection to the Singers and depriving them of the ability to change forms. Caught in a form with no spren, the Singers were reduced to what the humans know as parshmen, and what the Listeners called slaveform. Somehow, in the midst of all that, the Knights Radiant discovered the “wicked thing of eminence,” presumably related to the knowledge that the humans had allowed Odium access to Roshar and all that.

It seems likely to me that the Recreance resulted from the combination of 1) knowing humans to be the interlopers, 2) knowing that they had damaged their original planet beyond livability through some form of Surgebinding, 3) realizing that they had just destroyed the ability of the original inhabitants of Roshar to change forms, 4) knowing that those people had no further ability to wage war against them, and 5) having Honor in his dying throes going slightly wacko in his communications. Learning a warped view of their origins on Roshar, coupled with the belief that they’d just done in the parsh for good, might make the whole lot of them feel guilty enough to decide that the Radiants were an all-around bad idea. (I still have trouble figuring out how they could justify the damage they did to their spren, though.)

AP: You’re right, this could definitely be the Singers instead.

Those who claimed a Shard this day would become rulers. It bothered Dalinar that the best men, the ones calling for moderation or raising concerns, would be rare among their numbers. They weren’t aggressive enough to seize the advantage.

L: And just think, most of them were passed down to their probably equally-as-aggressive families, creating a culture of violence which has perpetuated to this very day!

AA: Along with the light eyes caused by holding a Shardblade.

The man was old, with a wide, furrowed face and bone-white hair that swept back from his head as if blown by wind. Thick mustaches with a hint of black in them blended into a short white beard. He seemed to be Shin, judging by his skin and eyes, and he wore a golden crown in his powdery hair.

… “You’re… not the Almighty, are you?”

“Honor? No, he truly is dead, as you’ve been told.” The old man’s smile deepened, genuine and kindly. “I’m the other one, Dalinar. They call me Odium.”

L: ::gasp::

AP: ^^ Actual footage of my reaction. How did you get a camera into my house???

AA: I’m not buying that, Aubree. You’re much prettier. (But the reaction… yeah. Yikes.)

Bruised & Broken

“[The viziers] are scared of you. Very scared. More scared than they are of the assassin. He burned the emperor’s eyes, but emperors can be replaced. You represent something far more terrible. They think you could destroy our entire culture.”

L: Given what we know about Blackthorn!Dalinar, I don’t blame them.

AP: I really liked this. Dalinar has major inroads to do, and it makes total sense that others would not trust the Blackthorn.

AA: I was fascinated by the contrast they saw between the Assassin and the Blackthorn. We got pretty used to everyone being absolutely terrified of The Assassin In White, but all he did was go around killing rulers.

L: Unlike Dalinar, who just killed everyone.

AA: The Azish have a very pragmatic view of their emperors, don’t they?

“Lift doesn’t trust you. … It’s because,” Yanagawn continued, “you act so righteous. She says anyone who acts like you do is trying to hide something.”

L: Very astute of Lift to pick up on it. I think she’s right—but also wrong. There’s no hiding the awful things he’s done in his past. Everyone knows. It’s a matter of history. I don’t think Dalinar’s trying to hide it, I think he’s trying to atone for it, which is a matter of distinction that Lift probably can’t really understand yet.

AP: Yes and no, they know some but not all. But what they do know about is bad enough.

AA: Well, at this point, Dalinar doesn’t know the worst of what he did; he just knows the story they agreed to tell about Rathalas. That said, he knows what the Blackthorn did in general, especially before that. I agree that he’s not trying to hide it, but I’m not sure “atone” is right either. According to everything he’s ever known, the Blackthorn was the epitome of Vorin ideals. He’s just come to believe that there’s a better way, and now he has to live down the reputation he earned.

Squires & Sidekicks

“They’re training me to act important, Kholin, but I’m not. Not yet. Maybe not ever.”

L: Poor Gawx. It’s got to be a tough job, being a child emperor. Especially in as turbulent of times as these.

AP: I’d really like to see him live long enough to do it. I hope we get to see Gawx after the time jump as a true ruler.

AA: Hear! Hear! The kid we saw in Words of Radiance was unequivocally unfit for the job, to the point of it being a joke. The young man we see now… he has potential. I have to give the scions and viziers a lot of credit here; they could easily just doll him up and make him keep his mouth shut—make him nothing but a puppet—but instead they’re training him to take on the role they gave him. Sure, right now a lot of it is to “act important” but we saw in Edgedancer that they were giving him a thorough education. In Oathbringer, the education is showing in his ability to evaluate what’s going on around him—including his own status. So, yes. I think he’s got the chance to become a true leader.

Places & Peoples

“That armor is Soulcast,” Jasnah said, releasing his hand. “Look at the fingermarks on the metal. That’s burnished iron, not true steel, Soulcast from clay into that shape. I wonder… did access to Soulcasters retard their drive to learn smelting?”

L: I love hearing about Soulcasting and how it works. I think that Jasnah is absolutely correct and that access to this magic meant that other, more mundane methods of creation were lost—but I also wonder if there was a booming business that rose up around armor-sculptors!

AP: Possibly! But at the same time, leaving finger marks in the clay means that the sculptor wasn’t very skilled, or the job was rushed. Which makes sense if they are just trying to get functional armor produced quickly.

Weighty Words

They left their armor as well. Shards of incalculable value, renounced.

L: Is it confirmed that this armor is the same as the Shardplate we see people using in modern times? It must be, right? It’s just been augmented with gems/Stormlight in order to power it now that the spren that it was created from are (sort of) dead.

AP: This makes me wonder about the mechanics of it. The blades get summoned and dismissed, and are sorta-dead spren. The armor is always present. Is it something else? Does it work best if paired with the original spren? Do you need both together to “heal” a dead spren? So many questions!

AA: So many questions indeed. It’s pretty solid that this is the same Shardplate, passed down through generations, but it clearly doesn’t work the same way as the Shardblades. It can’t (apparently) be bonded and dismissed like a Blade, and when pieces are broken they regrow. Unfortunately, all we have is speculation at this point.

(Also, I had a great question I was going to ask Brandon at the Skyward signing this weekend, and I just didn’t have time. I was going to ask if the Soulcaster and Regrowth fabrials (and any other ancient fabrials that emulate Surgebinding) are formed in a manner similar to the Shardplate, which I presume is from the non-sapient “cousin” spren corresponding to the Nahel-bonded spren. I’m bummed that I didn’t have more time.)

A Scrupulous Study of Spren

The knights drove their weapons into the ground, then abandoned them.

As before in this vision, Dalinar felt as if he could hear the screaming deaths of the spren, the terrible sorrow of this field. It almost overwhelmed him.

L: I wanted to put this bit in this section specifically because of how heart-wrenching this is considering what we know about the Shards and their relationships to their wielders. If these were just priceless swords, I could understand. But these Shards are spren. They’re living beings, probably good friends with the knights bonded to them—knights who knew that abandoning their friends would mean leaving them to die. How awful, to be faced with knowledge so devastating that you’d be willing to kill your best friend.

This is why I truly believe that there’s more going on here than just what we learn at the end of the novel. There must be. Learning that they’ve stolen this world from its rightful inhabitants couldn’t possibly drive someone to destroy their best friend. Could it?

AP: That’s a devastating revelation, but I agree that it’s probably not everything. Especially considering we are only in book 3/10. I keep coming back to the Honorspren being warlike. That’s…not a glowing endorsement. There is probably a good reason that the other spren don’t like them, and I think their nature ties into why the Recreance happened.

“I don’t know what caused the Recreance, but I can guess. They lost their vision, Your Excellency. They became embroiled in politics and let divisions creep among them. They forgot their purpose: protecting Roshar for its people.”

L: Mmmhmmm.

 

Next week we’ll be delving into chapter 57 before we take a little break from the main action for the second set of interludes. Be sure to join us in the comments for more discussion!

CORRECTION: There will be no reread post on November 22 due to the USA Thanksgiving holiday. Chapter 57 will happen on November 29.

Alice is exhausted. But no one has to listen to her talk about volleyball for another nine months, and the Skyward signing was fun. Also, Skyward is an excellent book.

Lyndsey is devastated over the loss of Stan Lee, but she’ll always remember that with great power comes great responsibility. If you’re an aspiring author, a cosplayer, or just like geeky content, follow her work on Facebook or her website.

Aubree is sending a shout out to all True Believers this week. Excelsior!

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